Friday, 24 June 2022

My favourite all-round fountain pen

I've used fountain pens for writing and sketching since I was a teenager. I go into a lot of detail about them in my Travel Sketching course, where I devote a whole lesson to their use, and have written a number of blog posts about these gorgeous tools. What I most often get asked is 'what would my recommended pen for sketching if money were no object'. Now - pen prices can go sky high and my collection is more about utility than collectability so I haven't really explored the amazing decorative pens in lacquer, gold and other precious metals that are available. Compared to those, my pens are quite humble. However I do prefer a gold nib, which raises the price, but I love the smooth writing experience that a gold nib provides. 

Pilot Custom Heritage 92 (photo from pilot pen.com.au)
The other characteristics that I enjoy are large ink capacity and comfort in the hand. 

I prefer that the pen is not too thick and not too heavy so it can be comfortable to draw with for many hours. 

The Pilot Custom Heritage 92 is just such a pen. I use the F nib in this pen, which gives a fine line with a little flex, but no scratch. While lovely for drawing and sketching, it is also a pen I enjoy writing with. 

It is only available in the clear, the smoky black and the blue models as shown, and I have one of each that I ink up in different colours, usually Brown, Grey and a light grey. It has a piston feed rather than a converter, and a large 1.2ml ink capacity. The pen is comfortable to use with the cap posted or not.






Pilot also makes a custom Heritage 912 that looks similar, but it comes in solid black and has a converter. It is the Pilot CON-70 converter that has a plunger for easy filling, and holds up to 1.1ml of ink. If the Con-70 vac converter appeals, there is also the more rounded body of the Pilot Custom 743 and Pilot Custom 74 to consider. 

Right now, Larrypost in Australia is offering a range of fountain pens at fantastic prices as we approach the end of our financial year. Other great pen sites are Gouletpens.com and Jetpens.com - which specialises in Japanese pens.

I really enjoy Pilot pens. I use the E95s in my diary for everyday writing, and love the Pilot Falcon pens that I wrote about in another post. 

While I almost always use pens in my sketches, I also often use fountain pens in my larger paintings. In this work, completed earlier this year, I drew using the Pilot Custom Heritage 92 pens inked in De Atramentis Document Ink in lighter and darker greys, and painted with watercolour in Jane's Grey and Jane's Black with a very little raw umber and burnt sienna for colour. This mixture of techniques combines my two great loves - drawing and painting.

'Grounded' - ink and watercolour on paper

Other wonderful Japanese pen brands include Sailor, Pelican and Platinum - which I think has the finest nibs available in an UXF (Ultra Extra Fine). While I haven't used Pelican or Platinum at all myself, I do love the super fine EF nibs of my Sailor pens for when I want to draw in really fine detail.

I've posted a number of articles about fountain pens, which I use for writing as well as drawing and sketching. I'll add the links here for convenience.

Favourite pens for sketching (originally 2015, updated 2019, soon to be updated again as some models have changed.) 

Lamy pens 2015 - great pens for writing and sketching 

TWSBI Diamond 580 2018 - huge ink capacity 

My Sketching Tools 2019 shows some other pens too, including the Pilot Heritage Custom 92 that I'd like to talk more about here.

For more on inks for sketching in fountain pens, check my other blog posts.

Packing inks and pens 2015

Fountain Pen and Drawing Inks 2014

Fountain pen inks 2018

Working in Ink 2014

De Atramentis Inks Revisited 2018 (with numerous links to posts about mixing coloured inks)

Happy drawing :-)

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Folio Palette by Art Toolkit

I've written about the Pocket Palette, a number of times before (you can search on my blog to find them all!) The first post was back in 2014 here, and I show a number of variation in my website. 

The idea of a compact sketching palette has always appealed to me, as has the idea of compact kits of all sorts. I love to have my watercolours or pens or tools organised for safe and portable use.

The newest addition to the palette family is the Folio. This palette is the same credit-card design, but this time 13.5 x 8.5cm closed - about the size of a mobile phone. 


It comes with a mix of the original rectangular pans, the tiny half pans, some larger square pans and two larger mixing pans so the number of possible configurations are huge. The mixing pans are really useful, and you'd probably keep those in it, but you might choose to set with up to 18 of the original pans, or 36 tiny pans, 9 large pans or your own combination based on the colours you use most. Part of the fun of a palette like this is deciding how to set it our for yourself!

The folio palette - open.


I've set up the Demi palette with a great 12-colour set, and the Pocket Palette with my 15 Ultimate Mixing Set colours. This credit-card size palette fits perfectly into a Galen leather EDC wallet if you want a compact carry case for it. I love the Galenleather.com products and will write about more of them another time.

The Folio Palette, the Demi Palette and the original business-card sized Pocket Palette.

Happy painting.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

The Affordable Art Fair, Sydney


I have been a little quiet here lately as I am working solidly on a number of new paintings for the first ever Sydney Affordable Art Fair, where I am delighted to exhibiting with Gallery 11:11

We will be exhibiting at the Royal Randwick Racecourse from the 2-5th June, along with over 30 galleries from across Australia. Gallery 11:11 will also be showcasing two of my fellow Sydney artists Kristine Ballard and Rebecca Anne Brady

On behalf of Gallery 11:11, I would like to invite you to the Royal Randwick Racecourse from 2 - 5 June, including the Opening Night. Please click here to register. Each registration is for two people, but passes are limited.

To redeem your digital tickets, simply follow these step-by-step instructions:

  • Click the above link to 'Register'

  • The promo code will have been automatically applied

  • Select their preferred date

  • Select the number of tickets, including children under 16, and click on ‘Register’

  • Fill in their contact details and click on ‘Register’

  • You will then be taken to the confirmation page and the e-ticket will be emailed to you

Should you have any difficulties with this process, please contact our ticket provider ‘Eventbrite’ using this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/support

Affordable Art Fair is a global family of fairs in ten cities around the world from Hamburg to Hong Kong, New York to London and now Sydney. The fair helps people discover the joy or collecting art and there will be thousands of original artworks priced between $100 and $10,000. 

If you would like more information about the programme please to check out their website 

My paintings for this exhibition are centred around a different palette from the bright florals I exhibited last December in my solo show Drawn to Nature. This body of work falls into the theme Grounded. My palette is far more earthy as I look at rocks, pebbles, tree roots, fallen leaves and dried plants. Here are some sections of a few paintings I've been working on.


This is part of a large painting inspired by rust. The title is Rust,Transposed. Largely watercolour on huge sheets of 640gsm watercolour paper, it also incorporates ink, watercolour pencils, gouache and pastel. The original image of rust on a pole becomes more like a volcanic landscape.












This detail from a full sheet watercolour painting River Stones, Daintree explores a favourite subject - stones and pebbles - that I've painted, drawn or etched since my teenage years. I love trying to capture the exact colours, cracks, crevices and textures of these many and varied stones. I sat on these river stones while sketching the rainforest then a visited the area a few years ago.







This detail is from the painting Grounded. It is a full sheet watercolour painting, and a largely tonal study of one of my favourite trees - a Morton Bay Fig in the Sydney Botanic Gardens. I've painted, etched and sketched this tree, and others like it, many times too. This shows the tree from a different direction. The full painting shows the embrace of the root system in the ground.








For those in Sydney - I hope to see you there. Now - back to my painting table :-)

For the full images of these and other work form this year, see my website here.

Saturday, 12 March 2022

Mastering Watercolours online course


I've just begun a run-through of Mastering Watercolours, my 13-lesson online course (including the huge introductory lesson) that delves deeply into watercolour - how to mix it, how to control it and how to paint with it using a range of techniques. It's a huge course that can be completed entirely at your own pace at any time. 

However for those who like to have a sense of a community going through together, now is a great time to dive in and begin, or to do it all over again!

I'll be concentrating on each lesson for the one or two week period as scheduled here. That means I'll be checking each section of each lesson in detail - commenting, answering questions etc on a far more detailed and daily basis. I do a run-though of each of my courses once a year.

Introduction from 9th March

Lesson 1 from 16th March

Lesson 2 from 23rd March

Lesson 3 from 30th March

Lesson 4 from 6th April

Lesson 5 from 13th April

Lesson 6 from 20th April (two weeks)

Lesson 7 from 4th May (two weeks)

Lesson 8 from 18th May (two weeks)

Lesson 9 from 1st June (two weeks)

Lesson 10 from 15th June (two weeks)

Lesson 11 from 29th June (two weeks)

Lesson 12 from 13th July (two weeks)

See you there!

(Anyone already registered just needs to log into their Ruzuku account or click on the link of any of my course newsletters.)

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

ShinHan Designer Gouache



There are 72 colours in the new ShinHan Professional Designer Gouache range, available in single 15ml tubes or in 12 or 24-colour sets. I received the Set B of 24 Designers Gouache tubes from ShinHan to try. 

The colour chart and tube labels detail the pigments used, along with a lightfast rating where * is for low lightfastness,  and **** is the highest. There is also a letter indicating the price series with A being the lowest and E the highest price. The only ingredients mentioned are pigment and gum Arabic.


I have painted them out over a permanent black line to show the degree of opacity of this set. While all are labelled as opaque, some cover the line more completely than others when used in a creamy consistency. The top square of each swatch shows the more diluted wash of gouache.

The Quinacridone Red is made with the PR254 pigment, usually known as pyrrol red - probably the most true mid-red pigment. It looks slightly too crimson here on my screen. Cadmium Red is actually more of a scarlet or orange-red than it looks on my screen. The other colours in this row are close to true, though the Jaune Brilliant is slight more peachy in reality. Reds, oranges and yellows are always difficult to capture correctly.

ShinHan Designer Gouache: Quinacridone Red, Cadmium Red, Permanent Yellow Deep, Naples Yellow,
Jaune Brilliant, Moss Green

The colours are fairly true in the next two rows.
ShinHan Designer Gouache: Terre Verte, Permanent Green Deep, Blue Green, 
Turquoise Green, Cobalt Green, Shadow Green

ShinHan Designer Gouache: Peacock Blue, Cobalt Blu, Ultramarine Deep, Indigo, Hydrangea Blue, Lilac

The Magenta is much brighter than it appears on my screen and the Pink actually looks more like the colour of a pink highlighter, but neither show up on my screen. I don't think any of these purple colours would be lightfast enough to use outside of a sketchbook, or for work created for reproduction.

ShinHan Designer Gouache: Cobalt Violet, Magenta, Pink, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Sepia



I was also sent tubes of the primary yellow, magenta and blue along with Primary White and Primary Black. This set of 5 would create a vast range of colours. Also here are the metallic and pearlescent colours and an additional black and white. The colours are fairly true though the sheen is less visible of course.

ShinHan Designer Gouache: Primary Yellow, Primary Magenta, Primary Cyan, Primary Black,
Primary White, Pearl White

ShinHan Designer Gouache: Peral Gold, Rich Gold, Silver, Peal Copper, Ivory Black, Permanent White

Like most designer gouache, these are largely quite flat and matte when painted out in a creamy strength. It would be possible to put together a workable warm and cool primary set with black, white and a few useful earth pigments to explore these paints further.

Note: For some reason I am currently unable to reply to comments and questions on my blog. Sorry to those who have asked questions and not had a response. Hopefully I'll solve the issue soon.